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Qtel Declares SMS-and-Win Contest is Not Mobile Gambling

Dec 27, 2010

Qtel Declares SMS-and-Win Contest is Not Mobile Gambling
Not mobile gambling?

A spokesperson for the Qtel Communication Group officially stated that a maligned “SMS and Win” contest will not be considered mobile gambling.

Numerous individuals complained to relevant authorities in the State of Qatar (known locally as Dawlat Qatar) that a trivia contest from the Qatar Telecom — once the emirate’s exclusive telecommunication provider – has been enabling mobile phone gambling.

Qtel’s Executive Director Adel Mutawa countered that participants in the promotion are receiving free digital content such as ring tones and wallpaper graphics for each text message sent by the consumer’s mobile phone. Each message costs 4 Qatari Riyal (QR), the equivalent of $1.10.

Because Qatar is an Arab emirate almost exclusively populated by Muslims, gambling is forbidden and illegal. However, Mutawa rationalized that the offer is not gambling online because the participants are not wagering to win or lose money. Rather, the contestants are learning of Qatar’s cultural traditions and heritage, such as daily practices, geographic data, and historical facts and figures.

The contest was initiated last October enabling Qtel customers to win 1,000 QR ($274.73) or a Samsung smartphone (which would provide access to Android casinos). The grand prize, worth considerably more than the 4QR stake, is a Porsche 911. All things considered, the Qatar government is unlikely to accept Mutawa’s declaration as the last word on the subject.

SMS-and-Win trivia contests are only one method by which mobile phones aid gamblers in Qatar. A popular method of organizing an illegal gambling den is for an event organizer to send a text message to 20 or 25 prospective gamblers when a home owner goes away on vacation or a business trip.

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